June Spencer – Peggy Archer retires

June Spencer had played the part of matriarch Peggy Woolley ( Archer) since 1951.

Most of us are very familiar with this long running series and I have to admit that it can be quite compulsive listening – it certainly was when we had the Helen / Rob storyline which resulted in one of the tensest episodes of anything I have ever heard – and all done on Radio. Over the Covid period however when the BBC had run out of recorded episodes a new style was briefly tried where many of the characters were effectively talking alone about their situations but somehow that did not gel at all with the listeners. It was pretty poor but at least they tried – it is now back to normal I am pleased to say.

Anyway back to June Spencer who is 103 years old

June described how the programme came in to being, Godfrey Baseley the creator and producer was at a farmers’ dinner one evening and the farmer next to him said what we need is a farming Dick Barton. Something to tell us all these blessed new instructions they keep giving us in palatable form. So, that’s what they did. They took the Dick Barton script writers and said write five episodes.”

Broadcasting since 1943, June describes herself as having “been around a bit” by the time The Archers started. In 1950 June featured as Peggy Archer in the programme’s trial episodes and was part of the cast for the official first episode of The Archers on 1 January 1951. Seventy years and over 19,000 episodes on, June has been working as part of The Archers cast.

When it was first dreamed up the job came as a surprise to June. She found out about it from someone she didn’t know “ standing in a queue in the BBC canteen for lunch” while working on another drama programme.

June accepted the role but before she and her fellow original Archers actors could record an episode they were put through their paces. She said, “We were gathered together and said without a script you’re going to be interviewed in character and that’s what Godfrey Baseley did. He said, “This is not a drama programme, it’s real life over-heard”.”

June doesn’t think anyone else other than Godfrey Baseley could have launched The Archers. “He was a very strong character. We used to call him God of course, short for Godfrey. He was a very domineering man and if he got an idea he would carry it through. He was the man to do it”, she said.

Time has moved on a long way since those early days and now in August of 2022, we learn that June Spences is to retire from her role as Peggy Archer.

She is said to have recorded her last episode, which was broadcast on 31 July – she says that she had make efforts to retire earlier but because of her popularity the producers were not ready to let her go

“I’ve been trying to retire for at least a year,” she told The Telegraph.

“They didn’t want to lose her character. Every time I tried to stop, they gave me more episodes.”

June Spencer had in fact stepped back from playing Peggy in the mid-1950s – and Thelma Rogers took over the role as Peggy – but she returned to the role in the early 1960s.

Peggy was often viewed as a traditionalist, a conservative character in the long-running drama charting the ups and downs of life in the village of Ambridge.

London- UK- 7th Dec 2021. HRH The Duchess of Cornwall hosts a reception for the BBC Radio 4 series ‘The Archers, celebrating 70 years of broadcasting. The reception was held at the home of Her Royal Highness, Clarence House in London where The Duchess met members of the cast and production team from the series.

Among Peggy’s many fans is the Duchess of Cornwall, who invited June Spencer and her co-stars to Clarence House last year for a reception marking the show’s 70th anniversary.

In a statement in The Telegraph, Camilla called Peggy “a true national treasure who has been part of my life, and millions of others, for as long as I can remember”.

ABOVE – Peggy Archer with her first husband Jack

Members of the cast were pictured together at the end of 1990 as the drama prepared to celebrate 40 years on the air with a special edition featuring the wedding of Peggy and Jack Woolley, played by Arnold Peters. SEE ABOVE and BELOW

Although Peggy has not yet been written out of the show, June Spencer has her own ideas on how best to manage her character’s exit.

“The simplest thing is if Peggy has a fall or something and goes into The Laurels -the fictional care home in Ambridge,” she said.

“She can languish for years there.”

Whether this happens, we the listeners will just have to wait and see

Members of The Archers cast gather to celebrate the 10,000th edition in 1989. Left to right: Tom Forrest (played by Bob Arnold), Jill Archer (Patricia Greene), Peggy Archer (June Spencer ), Phil Archer (Norman Painting) and
seated Walter Gabriel (Chriss Gittins).

As a footnote – the actress that took over the role as Peggy in 1956 until 1962 was Thelma Rogers

In 1962, Thelma left the The Archers to return to her stage career, mainly in Scotland. It was an amicable departure, with June Spencer returning to the part. Thelma went on to join the Perth Repertory Company. She appeared in major parts in Dundee and Glasgow, and featured in the Lionel Bart musical, Oliver, both in London and on tour. On Television, she had a part in another Birmingham-based series, Crossroads, and in Coronation Street. In Scotland, she took a prominent role – playing an author – in the Scottish TV series Take the High Road.

Thelma was a quiet person, but a wonderful conversationalist and a serious reader, whether it be Shakespeare or Shaw, Virginia Woolf or Jane Austen. Not all actors wish to talk literature, but Thelma did. She hated the name Thelma – until someone pointed out it was an anagram of Hamlet. She had a quiet enthusiasm for things.

She died in the year 2000 at the age of 75

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The Prisoner of Shark Island 1936

A John Ford Film made well before the Fifties but a film that is well worth viewing.

It stars Warner Baxter as Dr Samuel Mudd who was wrongfully accused of being involved in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln – when in fact he had nothing to do with it – what he had done was to treat the actual assassin who had been injured. This was enough, with feelings running high, to have him imprisoned on Shark Island.

Warner Baxter was a great friend of Ronald Colman – in fact they looked quite similar and they both had star appeal and remained very popular with cinema audiences. Another friend was William Powell

This is one of John Ford’s more under-appreciated films – and is is the biopic of Dr Samuel Mudd, the doctor who set John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Dr. Mudd (Warner Baxter) is convicted of being a part of the assassination and sent to a Union prison on Shark Island one of a a small group of islands off the coast of Florida. The prison island is – as the title suggests – surrounded by sharks. He endures brutal treatment and living conditions. but when hen the prison is stricken with an outbreak of yellow fever, Dr. Mudd rises to the occasion and heroically saves lives.

It is directed by one of the greats with a good script and starring a fine cast. In addition to Warner Baxter, who does an excellent job in the lead, the cast includes Gloria Stuart, Harry Carey, and Claude Gillingwater.

Ernest Whitman is good as Mudd’s friend (and his former slave!).

John Carradine plays a nasty and abusive Union guard who seems to have it in for Dr Mudd from the start.

This film is really good entertainment – Warner Baxter excellent in the leading role

ABOVE – Gloria Stuart with Joyce Kay

ABOVE and BELOW – Arriving Home after the drama and cruelty

This must have seemed like Paradise – back with his Wife and little Daughter

Dr Mudd wasn ‘t the only one re-united with his family – this was virtually the final frame of the film

An added snippet – The lovely Gloria Stuart who played Dr Samuel Mudd’s wife – and is pictured above – died in 2010 at the age of 100

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The Bullying of Joan Rice

Yes – this is a hard hitting title I know but this is very much what I think when it comes to discussing the making of ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ at Denham Film Studios in the summer of 1951

ABOVE – The Lovely Joan Rice in ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ 1952
Joan Rice with Dirk Bogarde in an earlier film – I am sure that he was very good to her and helped her along

It is well documented that Richard Todd and Ken Annakin did not respect Joan Rice as an actress and this is confirmed in a number of interviews Richard Todd gave – he said ‘She wasn’t an actress at all’ and impled that she was out of her depth.

Ken Annakin in his Autobiography states that she was poor and accident prone and much more.

He says that Joan Rice was ‘ a cross he had to bear’ and that she was ‘dumb and accident prone’ and he describes her ‘going off crying again’ following insults thrown at her by one of the crew.

He then says that Walt Disney visited the set and had his picture taken with a few of the actors and some with Joan Rice on the Archery set – and he declared that he had made the right choice in casting her as Maid Marian. Ken Annakin said that he and others , Richard Todd no doubt, did not agree with him and thought he could have done better

Walt Disney shares a picnic with Richard Todd and Joan Rice

During the filming Joan had said amid tears that ‘if she wasn’t good enough then she would go back to being a waitress’ – however she had one very powerful ally in Walt Disney who chose her – in my view for her looks and how she fitted his own picture of Maid Marian. He was right – the public loved her in this role and still do

Ken Annakin says, again in his Autobiography, that he recalls one incident where one of the crew – an electrician – was walking past him and Joan Rice as Ken Annakin was going through her lines with her and the crew member in a loud whisper said ‘ She’s nothing but a big soft milk tart, Governor. Big boobs and and no drawers’. This again made Joan run off and cry until she was persuaded to come back.

This should never have been allowed and the crew member should have been reprimanded but the culture was such that this type of offensive behaviour to a very young girl was just let go,

What makes it even more galling for me is that Richard Todd had recommended James Robertson Justice for Little John – but here was someone who was not trained as an actor – and in fact was a fantasist and story teller on a grand scale – who seemed to get through each role by shouting his lines. He had a terrible Scots accent in Rob Roy although he claimed to be Scottish and born on the Isle of Skye which he wasn’t.

To add insult to injury Ken Annakin also in his Autobiography – says how well he got on with James Robertson Justice who, he said was ‘larger than life’ and always entertaining. In fairness to him, James would not have been pushed around and treated badly by Ken Annakin and Richard Toddas Joan Rice was.

James Robertson Justice was a former public schoolboy as was Richard Todd, and as such had that confidence which Joan Rice with her poor upbringing did not.

It has also to be remembered that in the summer of 1951 when the film was made, Joan Rice was only 20 years old

Ken Annakin

Ken Annakin and Richard Todd I am sure looked down on her maybe because of this and treated her with disdain throughout the filming – maybe Ken Annakin, to be fair, was better to her than Richard Todd.

Richard Todd had nothing to do with her after the film was finished – he could have helped her but didn’t.

I sometimes think that if a different actress had been given the role – and I am pleased that they weren’t – she would have stood up to Mr Todd or maybe if Joan Rice had been a little older she would have.

Joan Rice was cruelly treated in the making of ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ by these two

Joan Rice went on to make ‘His Majesty O Keefe’ with Burt Lancaster out in Fiji and I hope that she was treated better there. It was another ‘big’ film.

Before she was cast in this film, Diana Dors had been approached for ‘His Majesty O Keefe’ but did not get the part – If Diana had worked with Ken Annakin and Richard Todd, she would have more than competed with them. She would have stood up to them

I did write this in an earlier post :-

Richard Todd said in a recent BBC radio interview that Joan Rice wasn’t really an actress although she was a very lovely girl. He also said that he didn’t know why Walt Disney and others had chosen her. In fact in Ken Annakin’s autobiography (and he directed the film) he states that Joan Rice was the choice of Walt Disney himself and Walt insisted she was in, having seen previous rushes of her films. He was absolutely right of course. She looked the part and acted pretty well – so much so that she got a major part in His Majesty O’Keefe opposite Burt Lancaster next.
Walt Disney knew what the public wanted instinctively. Joan Rice IS Maid Marian!!!

I wish Walt Disney had been around much more for the filming – he would not have allowed the bullying of this lovely young girl who was just making her way in the film world – and this one was about as big a film as you could get at the time.

1951 Walt Disney and Director Ken Annakin on the set of the film “Robin Hood” at Denham Film Studios
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The Last Page 1952

George Brent came over from Hollywood for this one and it also starred a young Diana Dors

Above – George Brent with a smile on his face – he always seemed so serious in the films I saw him in – as he was in this one.

I watched this film a week or more ago – very good. Diana Dors looked glamorous and acted extremely well in one of her early film roles.

George Brent, at this point, was very much towards the end of his film career – it was mostly television after this.

He plays John Harman, manager of a British bookstore. Jeffrey (Peter Reynolds) starts to steal a book but is caught by Ruby (Diana Dors). Seems strange but after she catches him in the act, he somehow turns the tables on her, and charms her into accepting a date which leads her into a murky world of nastiness, blackmail, even death.

Ruby becomes embroiled in a plot to blackmail her boss ( George Brent) and this leads to murder.

George Brent with Diana Dors in an early scene

There is quite an exciting end to the film – which is one well worth viewing.

ABOVE: The Book Shop

George Brent with Diana Dors

George Brent here with fellow American star Marguerite Chapman both over here for this film. She plays another employee at the Book Shop but also a good friend of George Brent and his wife. She does everything to try to help in the blackmail dilemma – she also seems to show a love for George Brent. She had quite a big part and was very good.

ABOVE – Raymond Huntley plays a senior employee at the Book Shop and now is trying to help

George Brent makes a dash for it !

Produced by Hammer Films, and Directed by Terence Fisher, who was more famous for directing many of the horror films for Hammer later on.

Dracula, The Mummy and The Curse of Frankenstein are three of the early – and most well known and best – ones.

The Film Trailer BELOW is exciting and gives a strong taste of what is to come – A very good trailer :

This was under the film’s other title ‘Man Bait’ which I don’t like.

The Front Page’ is much better

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Filming ‘North By North West’

Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘North By North West’ was released in 1959

At Mount Rushmore

Cary Grant plays an ad-man caught up in international espionage in 1959’s North By Northwest 

This is a Studio S3et at MGM Studios in Hollywood for the rear projection shot
ABOVE – That same set – In Colour

ABOVE – Cary Grant watches, as does Director Alfred Hitchcock as the plane sequence is being filmed on location

The crop duster scene from ‘North by Northwest’ was filmed along Highway 41 in downstate Indiana.

Hitchcock’s 1959 suspense thriller “North by Northwest” is one of those must-see films

BELOW – Later in the film – in fact the climatic sequence partly filmed on this large and impressive Studio set.

A convincing set for the final film sequence
Decorative orange line in page layout

The Sets from “North by Northwest”

North by Northwest movie opening titles MGM Pictures

Old Westbury Gardens

Townsend estate exterior

Cary Grant is a successful Madison Avenue ad man named Roger Thornhill, whose life gets turned upside down when he gets mistaken for an undercover CIA agent. He’s first taken to this large estate on Long Island.

The estate where they filmed the exteriors for those scenes is Old Westbury Gardens, which is on the North Shore of Long Island in New York.

The interiors shown in the movie were sets built on a separate soundstage.

Townsend entry hall 2
When Thornhill gets locked in the library, he quips:
“Don’t worry about me. I’ll catch up on my reading.”
A living room filled with furniture and a fireplace

Screenwriter Ernest Lehman says Grant was a perfectionist who often complained about various parts of the script or the way things were being filmed and lobbied to get them changed.

North by Northwest turned out to be Grant’s biggest box-office success.

Cary Grant inside Townsend library

Scenes at the U.N.

UN exterior in North by Northwest
Hitchcock wasn’t allowed to film outside the U.N. so they “stole” a shot of Cary Grant walking in.
The people walking around in the shot didn’t know they were being filmed.
The interior of the U.N. was just a matte painting:
UN interior painting

The actual matte painting:

U.N. matte painting on display

Mount Rushmore

cars parked in lot below Mount Rushmore

The screenplay was written by Ernest Lehman.

Hitchcock told him, “I always wanted to do a chase scene across the faces of Mt. Rushmore,” and that was the starting point for the movie.

Lehman recalled, “I wanted to write the Hitchcock picture to end all Hitchcock pictures. I wanted something that had wit, sophistication, glamour, action, and lots of changes of locale.”

After word got out that there would be a fight scene and a couple of deaths on the monument, government officials barred them from filming there.

The crew flew back to Hollywood, where Mount Rushmore had to be recreated at MGM.

Mt Rushmore park bldg 1
Mt Rushmore park bldg 2
Mt Rushmore-park building goof

The Vandamm House on Mount Rushmore

North by Northwest Hitchcock movie Vandamm house 3
ABOVE – Cary Grant at the house – a Matte Shot

In the film this house is known as “The Vandamm House” after James Mason’s character, Phillip Vandamm.

exterior of Modernist Vandamm House in North-by-Northwest Movie
The House does not exist and was an excellent Matte Shot
North by Northwest Hitchcock movie Vandamm house 2

The MGM researchers had to get special permits and Park Service escorts just to visit the area in order to photograph and measure it.

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Leslie Howard – Gone With The Wind

𝟭𝟵𝟯𝟵 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗮 𝘆𝗲𝗮𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗴𝗼 𝗱𝗼𝘄𝗻 𝗶𝗻 𝗵𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘆. 𝗜𝘁 𝘄𝗮𝘀, 𝗼𝗳 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀𝗲, 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘆𝗲𝗮𝗿 that 𝗛𝗶𝘁𝗹𝗲𝗿 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗯𝗲𝗴𝗶𝗻 𝗪𝗼𝗿𝗹𝗱 𝗪𝗮𝗿 𝗜𝗜 𝗯𝘆 𝗶𝗻𝘃𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗼𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗱. 𝗜𝘁 𝗮𝗹𝘀𝗼 𝗵𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘆𝗲𝗮𝗿 𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗚𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗪𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗪𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗺𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗰 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗹𝗱 𝗯𝘆 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗺.

𝗟𝗲𝘀𝗹𝗶𝗲 𝗦𝘁𝗲𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗿, 𝗮 𝗝𝗲𝘄𝗶𝘀𝗵 𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝗛𝘂𝗻𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗱𝗲𝘀𝗰𝗲𝗻𝘁, 𝗯𝗼𝗿𝗻 𝗶𝗻 𝗟𝗼𝗻𝗱𝗼𝗻, 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝘆 𝗮 𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻𝗶𝗳𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗿𝗼𝗹𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗯𝗼𝘁𝗵 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀. We all 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄 𝗵𝗶𝗺 𝗯𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝘀 𝗟𝗲𝘀𝗹𝗶𝗲 𝗛𝗼𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗱, 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗼 𝘄𝗵𝗼𝗺 𝗦𝗰𝗮𝗿𝗹𝗲𝘁𝘁 𝗰𝗿𝗼𝗼𝗻𝗲𝗱, “𝗔𝘀𝗵𝗹𝗲𝘆, 𝗔𝘀𝗵𝗹𝗲𝘆…” 𝗛𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗮𝗹𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗱𝘆 𝗮 𝘃𝗲𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝗰𝗿𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗮 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗿𝘁𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗼𝗯, 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝗚𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗪𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗪𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗮𝗽𝘂𝗹𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗵𝗶𝗺 𝘁𝗼 𝗺𝗲𝗴𝗮 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗼𝗺.

𝗟𝗲𝘀𝗹𝗶𝗲 𝗛𝗼𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗱 𝘄𝗮𝗹𝗸𝗲𝗱 𝗮𝘄𝗮𝘆 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗶𝘁 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝗶𝗻 𝟭𝟵𝟰𝟬, 𝗯𝘂𝘆𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗳𝗲𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗿𝗼𝘆𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝗳𝗮𝘃𝗼u𝗿 𝗼𝗳 𝘄𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗱𝘂𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗶-𝗡𝗮𝘇𝗶 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗽𝗮𝗴𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗮 𝗳𝗶𝗹𝗺𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗶𝘀𝗵 𝗴𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁. 𝗧𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗺𝗼𝘃𝗲 𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝗵𝗶𝗺 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗲𝗻𝗺𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗡𝗮𝘇𝗶 𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽 𝗶𝗻 𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗹, 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝗲𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗝𝗼𝘀𝗲𝗽𝗵 𝗚𝗼𝗲𝗯𝗯𝗲𝗹𝘀, 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗚𝗲𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗽𝗮𝗴𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗮 𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿.

𝗢𝗻 𝗝𝘂𝗻𝗲 𝟭, 𝟭𝟵𝟰𝟯, 𝗟𝗲𝘀𝗹𝗶𝗲 𝗛𝗼𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗱 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝟭𝟳 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝗮𝗿𝗱 𝗙𝗹𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝟳𝟳𝟳, 𝗮 𝗰𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗹𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝗶𝗿𝗰𝗿𝗮𝗳𝘁 𝗳𝗹𝘆𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗻𝗲𝘂𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗹 𝗣𝗼𝗿𝘁𝘂𝗴𝗮𝗹 𝘁𝗼 𝗕𝗿𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗹. 𝗕𝘆 𝗺𝘂𝘁𝘂𝗮𝗹 𝗮𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁, 𝘀𝘂𝗰𝗵 𝗰𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗹𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗲𝘀 𝗳𝗹𝗲𝘄 𝘀𝗮𝗳𝗲𝗹𝘆 𝗯𝗮𝗰𝗸 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗳𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗵 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝗳𝗿𝗲𝗾𝘂𝗲𝗻𝗰𝘆. 𝗢𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗱𝗮𝘆, 𝗵𝗼𝘄𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿, 𝘀𝗶𝘅 𝗝𝘂𝗻𝗸𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗝𝘂 𝟴𝟴 𝗳𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗮𝗰𝗸𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗲𝗳𝗲𝗻ce𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗗𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗹𝗮𝘀 𝗗𝗖-𝟯, 𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗰𝗿𝗮𝘀𝗵 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗮𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝗕𝗶𝘀𝗰𝗮𝘆 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗸𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝗮𝗿𝗱.

𝗔𝗹𝗹 𝗼𝗳 𝗕𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗶𝗻 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝘀𝗵𝗼𝗰𝗸𝗲𝗱, 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝘀𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗡𝗮𝘇𝗶𝘀. 𝗠𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗵𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗻𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗲𝘃𝗲 𝗶𝘁 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗠𝗶𝗻𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗚𝗼𝗲𝗯𝗯𝗲𝗹𝘀 𝗵𝗶𝗺𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳 𝘄𝗵𝗼 𝗼𝗿𝗱𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗮𝗰𝗸 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗱𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗵 𝗼𝗳 this famous film star. 𝗟𝗲𝘀𝗹𝗶𝗲 𝗛𝗼𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗱 𝗱𝗶𝗲𝗱 𝗮𝘁 𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝟱𝟬, 𝗮 𝘀𝘂𝗽𝗲𝗿𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗿, 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝘄𝗵𝗼𝘀𝗲 𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗿𝗼𝗹𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗶𝗹𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝘀𝗰𝗿𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗿𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗲.

Leslie’s son Ronald Howard himself a film actor with many roles to his credit, wrote a book about his father and this included much detail of his father’s death

Leslie Howard his Wife Ruth and son Ronald

Leslie Howard had a younger brother Arthur who became a popular TV actor when he worked as side-kick to Professor Jimmy Edwards in the long running series ‘Whack O ‘

This is the article I did some time ago – and is repeated BELOW

Arthur Howard – Wacko and the film ‘Bottoms Up’

His famous actor brother Leslie Howard was about 20 years older than the character actor Arthur Howard who had his greatest success on television when he played the role of the deputy headmaster Pettigrew to Jimmy Edwards’s  incompetent head in Whack-O! in the late 1950s.

For many years Athur Howard had brightened the cinema screen with a series of cameos (often uncredited), specialising in nervousl type teachers, vicars or “men from the ministry”.

Though a distinct family resemblance was apparent, he lacked the finely chiselled features that made a matinee idol of his brother, and leading men or his nephew Ronald or his son Alan.

Born Arthur Stainer in 1910, he made his screen debut in one of his brother’s films, The Lady is Willing (1933), the first film to be made by Columbia’s British studio but, despite a script by Guy Bolton, the film was a failure. He did not make another film until 1947, when his role as a town hall clerk issuing ration books and identity cards in Frieda started a long and active period as a supporting player, contributing telling cameos to some of the best comedies of the era including The Man in the White Suit (1951), Laughter in Paradise (1952) and The Belles of St Trinian’s (1954).

Arthur Howard in Passport to Pimlico (1949)(left)

ABOVE – In Passport to Pimlico 1949

Arthur Howard

ABOVE – Arthur Howard a signed picture

In Henry Cornelius’s classic Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico (1949) he was a councillor in favour of selling wasteland to prospectors rather than accept Stanley Holloway’s plans for a playground, and in Frank Launder’s hilarious The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950), in which a girls’ school is unwittingly billeted with a boys’, he was the distracted science master barely aware of the chaos being generated around him.

He was a butler in both David Lean’s The Passionate Friends (1948) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Stage Fright (1950) and in Sidney Gilliat’s atmospheric story of life in a London boarding house London Belongs to Me (1948) he was the head of the “South London Psychical Society”, offering lobster-paste sandwiches to members before a seance.

In Lewis Gilbert’s Cosh Boy (1952), controversial in its day for its depiction of juvenile crime, he was the registrar who marries the delinquent’s widowed mother to the man who brings discipline to the boy’s life.

Arthur Howard

Whack-O!, which started on radio before achieving its very suddessful run on television (1956-60), made him a household name as the none-too-bright assistant to Jimmy Edwards’s conniving and often inebriated headmaster.

Written by Frank Muir and Dennis Norden, the series became a feature film, Bottoms Up!, in 1960 with Athur Howard in his original role, though when the series was revived on television in 1971 Julian Orchard played Pettigrew.

Arthur Howard

Other television appearances included guest spots on George and Mildred, Robin’s Nest, Ever Decreasing Circles, Happy Ever After, Never the Twain, The Eric Sykes Show and, as Professor Plum, the children’s series Plum’s Pots and Pans.

Arthur Howard played in a season of Crossroads, in 1984, and appeared last year in “The Last Englishman”, an episode of Heroes and Villains.

His stage work included classics (the Duke of York in Richard II at the Ludlow Festival: Love for Love at the Bristol Old Vic, the Earl of Caversham in An Ideal Husband at Greenwich) and modern farce (several years in No Sex, Please, We’re British). His later films included Moonraker (1979) and Another Country (1984); his last screen appearance was in Tristram Powell’s American Friends (1990).

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Johnny and Lupe Velez

Well here is an actor who requires no introduction – his name is firmly among the top icons of the film star world

Here Johnny is pictured with his wife at the time Lupe Velez – she looks very attractive

Lupe Velez , Mexican actress with her husband , Johnny ( Tarzan ) Weismuller at Paddington Station , London 5 October 1934 – England

We all know about Johnny Weissmuller’s astonishing life from an Olympic Gold Medallist to Films with MGM the top Studio, as Tarzan, then Jungle Jim on film then to Television – the successful film career lasting around 25 years. On top of this were the many water show displays all over the USA

Much less is known of Lupe Velez, Johnny’s wife from 1933 to 1939.

Prior to this she had dated Errol Flynn

Lupe Velez

In 1924, Lupe Velez started that career on the Mexican stage

By 1927 she had emigrated to Hollywood, where she was discovered by Hal Roach, who cast her in a comedy with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Douglas Fairbanks cast her in his feature film, “The Gaucho” (1927), with himself and wife Mary Pickford.

Lupe played dramatic roles for five years before she switched to comedy. In 1933 she played the lead role of Pepper in “Hot Pepper” (1933). This film showcased her comedic talents and helped her to show the world her vital personality.

In 1934 Lupe appeared in three fine comedies: “Strictly Dynamite” (1934), “Palooka” (1934) and “Laughing Boy” (1934). By now her popularity was such that a series of “Mexican Spitfire” films were written around her. She portrayed Carmelita Lindsay in “Mexican Spitfire” (1940), “Mexican Spitfire Out West” (1940), “The Mexican Spitfire’s Baby” (1941) and “Mexican Spitfire’s Blessed Event” (1943), among others.

Her love life was a disaster: she never recovered from her failed romance with Gary Cooper, who never wanted to marry her.

She was married to Johnny Weissmuller, but they divorced after five years.

Lupe Vélez’s death was recounted in the 1959 book “Hollywood Babylon” by Kenneth Anger.

Her death certificate lists “Seconal poisoning” due to “ingestion of Seconal” as the cause of death.

These are some of her comments about herself – Very Interesting :-

“What I attribute my success? I think, simply, because I’m different. I’m not beautiful, but I have beautiful eyes and know exactly what to do with them.

Although the public thinks that I’m a very wild girl. Actually I’m not. I’m just me, Lupe Vélez, simple and natural Lupe. If I’m happy, I dance and sing and act like a child. And if something irritates me, I cry and sob. Someone called that ‘Personality.’ The Personality is nothing more than behave with others as you really are. If I tried to look and act like Norma Talmadge, the great dramatic actress, or like Corinne Griffith, the aristocrat of the movies, or like Mary Pickford, the sweet and gentle Mary, I would be nothing more than an imitation.

I just want to be myself

I didn’t know much about Lupe Velez but from what I have recently learned, I am certain that I would have liked her !

I am sorry to know that she died quite young and was unhappy

Similar details of her life as above really : Lupe Vélez (born María Guadalupe Villalobos Vélez; July 18, 1908 – December 14, 1944). Lupe was a Mexican actress, dancer and singer during the “Golden Age” of Hollywood films.

By the end of the 20 s, Lupe Velez was acting in full-length silent films and had progressed to leading roles in The Gaucho (1927), Lady of the Pavements (1928) and Wolf Song (1929), among others.

Lupe Vélez then made the transition to sound films without difficulty. She was one of the first successful Latin-American actresses in Hollywood.

During the 1930s, her well-known explosive screen image was exploited in several successful comedic films like Hot Pepper (1933), Strictly Dynamite (1934) and Hollywood Party (1934). In the 1940s, Vélez’s popularity peaked after appearing as Carmelita Fuentes in eight Mexican Spitfire films, a series created to capitalize on Lupe Vélez’s well-documented fiery personality.Nicknamed The Mexican Spitfire by the media,

Lupe Vélez’s personal life was as colourful as her screen personality. She had several highly publicised romances with Hollywood actors and a stormy marriage with Johnny Weissmuller.

I liked them both

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An Interview with Col Tom Parker’s Wife

Elvis with Col Tom Parker

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Front of House Stills

Each day I used to walk up to school past a couple of cinemas with ‘Front of House Stills’ as they are called on show in a glass fronted cupboard near the Cinema Entrance

I loved them – still do – and I referred to them as ‘Scenes from the film’ which I consider a better title – they gave us a taste of what we were to see on the screen

The Rawhide Years & Others Lot (Universal International, 1955). Title Lobby Cards (6) (11″ X 14″). Western.
Starring Tony Curtis, Colleen Miller, Arthur Kennedy, William Demarest, and William Gargan. Directed by Rudolph Maté. Included in this lot are title lobby cards from The Capture (RKO, 1950), Fury at Showdown (United Artists, 1957), Jubal (Columbia, 1956), Many Rivers to Cross (MGM, 1955), and Barricade (Warner, 1950). lobby cards with bright colour

The above are all Westerns from Universal – but they are not ‘front of house stills’ – mainly Posters but the ones below are. Well, all but one anyway

The ABOVE is not so much a classic Front of House Still but more a scene being filmed – with Audie Murphy

ABOVE – I chose this still from ‘Cimarron’ mainly because here we have a picture of Maria Schell who had made such an impact a few years earlier in the film ‘So Little Time’ opposite Marius Goring

She played the loving but lonely Sabra Cravat in the 1960 Anthony Mann-directed remake of Cimarron.  It was a big western, spanning decades .  Its central theme was the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 but its emotional theme was the long but fractured marriage of Maria Schell and Glenn Ford.  She suffers throughout because he is always leaving her for long periods of time to pursue other interests. 

During the filming Maria Schell fell deeply in love with Glenn Ford and wanted to marry him.  Although he loved her as well, he was suffering because his marriage to Eleanor Powell was ending and he didn’t feel able to commit in the way she wanted.  She always said it was one of the great regrets of her life.

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The Rawhide Years 1955

Directed by Rudolph Maté
Starring Tony Curtis, Colleen Miller, Arthur Kennedy, William Demarest, Robert J. Wilke, Chubby Johnson, I. Stanford Jolley

The Rawhide Years (1955). Tony Curtis is a riverboat gambler who flees when he’s implicated in a murder. He returns three years later to clear his name, track down the real killers and be reunited with his girl (Colleen Miller).

Coleen Miller with Tony Curtis
Coleen Miller

Coleen Miller had a career in films manily in the 50’s and she made a few Westerns

This film was released in 1955 the year that she got married

Tony Curtis is well on form in ‘The Rawhide Years’ – in it Arthur Kennedy played a nasty villain – a part he was used to playing in Westerns.

Irving Glassberg shot the film in Technicolor

Tony Curtis had appeared in Westerns before — “Kansas Raiders,” “Winchester ’73” and “Sierra” (all 1950) — but not with top billing.

This marked his last Western film

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